University of Dundee

Parkinson’s patient raises £70,000 for research into disease

07 Mar 2018

A Parkinson’s patient who has lived with the disease for more than a decade has visited the University of Dundee to see how money he has raised will be used to research potential new treatments for the condition.

Marc Van Grieken, from Comrie in Perthshire, visited the Medical Research Centre Protein Phosphorylation and Ubiquitylation Unit (MRC-PPU) to present £70,000 to researchers and find out more about how it will be spent. 

Landscape Architect Marc celebrated turning 60 in April last year by setting himself the challenge of raising £60,000 for Parkinson’s UK, the charity driving better care and breakthrough treatments through research.  

A year of cycling challenges, fundraisers and marathons for Marc and his family and friends followed. The initial target was quickly smashed and £70,000 of the money he raised has now been awarded by Parkinson’s UK to the University’s research team.

Marc said, “Whilst this challenge has progressed over this year, so has my Parkinson’s. This has made everyday tasks and life a little more difficult but it demonstrates perfectly the importance of finding a cure and developing treatments.

“I’ve been overwhelmed by the support I’ve had from across Scotland and beyond in what’s already been a memorable and rewarding year. All the money raised is going to support a fantastic team of world-class researchers in Dundee. Already this year they’ve achieved ground-breaking results and I want to help them achieve even more.”

Marc was just 49 when his legs froze to the spot and he fell over while out running. He found his diagnosis hard to accept at first but help from his family and Dr Esther Sammler, a consultant neurologist at Ninewells Hospital and Honorary Senior Clinical Lecturer at the University, helped him to cope.  

Dr Sammler and her colleagues took Marc on a tour of the MRC-PPU and showed how the money he raised will be spent as researchers work to find better treatments and ultimately a cure for Parkinson’s.

Marc’s donation is being used to fund two projects into the activation of the LRRK2 enzyme, which is the most common genetic link to the causes of Parkinson’s disease. Understanding of how this enzyme goes wrong in Parkinson’s may help to develop new therapies.

Siobhan O’Hara, Parkinson’s UK Regional Fundraiser – East Scotland, said, “Parkinson’s UK is extremely fortunate to have a supporter in Marc. His good humour, determination and positivity in dealing with his diagnosis has been remarkable.

“His exploits are helping fund world-leading research here in Scotland that has the potential to have a huge impact on the future of Parkinson’s treatments. We encourage anyone inspired by Marc’s story to get involved and support our work in Scotland and throughout the UK.”

To find out more about Marc’s story and his year of fundraising, please visit or